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What Does Oscar Night Have to Do With Leadership?

I began my journey to ultimately become a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to sweep across the U.S. And as part of that journey I had been watching a webinar on Leadership Learning: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader in which Jim Kouzes shared the question he and Barry Posner are asked most frequently, “Are leaders born or made?” He said in their research, only 0.00013% of people demonstrated no leadership abilities whatsoever. This spurred me to look for ways in which The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® presented themselves in all types of settings.

Like most families during this global crisis, there were significant changes in the way my family coped. The four of us—myself, my husband, 12-year-old Piper, and 16-year-old Haru (our sweet puppy dog)—shared our time together as a family playing board games, watching movies, reading good books…just to name a few. I thought we were adjusting to our ‘stay-at-home order’ well until one day Piper said she “just didn’t have anything to look forward to.” She was missing her friends, going to school, and participating in her extracurricular activities.

I pondered how we could plan something to look forward to and—Challenging the Process—came up with family-themed nights, with each family member taking a turn planning a fun family evening. I anticipated doing such things as elaborate game nights, movies in the backyard, scavenger hunts, etc. Piper volunteered to go first.

I should have known from the beginning that she would exceed expectations! Piper is creative, theatrical, and very enthusiastic. The plans for our evening began to unfold when my husband and I received an official invitation to join the first Gibbons-Carney “Oscar” night. Piper included a red-carpet dress code along with a time to be ready for the fun to begin!

And dress up we did! Piper Modeled the Way by donning a beautiful red dress and pearls. We followed her lead and dressed in our very finest, too. I wore my grandmother’s fur coat and my husband looked dashing in his dress slacks and button-down.

Piper prepared a fabulous dinner and then dazzled us with a beautiful Oscar presentation during which she Encouraged the Heart—individually and uniquely recognizing each of us, including Haru who won the Oscar for the most therapeutic. We attended the Oscar after-party where we danced, played trivia, laughed, and had fun!  At the end of the night, Piper helped me post pictures on Facebook showing off our fun evening, in the hope others might replicate this creative, exciting night of family bonding.

As I sit back and reflect on the night, it is clear to me that Jim Kouzes was right. Anyone can be a leader and Piper definitely proved she is one!


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iLead programs are grounded in the award-winning, best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. This research-driven leadership development model illustrates how everyday leaders mobilize others to want to get extraordinary things done.

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